The future of dining at Rensselaer
Beyond meal planning, Baldwin and David Gaul, marketing director for Sodexo, also have been working to explore and implement new sustainable methods and technologies to make the dining experience more efficient and environmentally friendly.
“While students’ expectations have changed as it relates to dining, we also realize that we need to find ways to adopt new methods related to how we serve and the products that are used,” said Gaul. “We are committed to sustainability and improving the quality of life for the campus community, so we always looking for new ways to protect and restore the environment.”
Rensselaer is the first college in the Northeast to use iMYE, an innovative dining option that offers a restaurant-style approach that allows students to preview and select menu choices via a touch-screen kiosk system. Located in the Institute’s Howard N. Blitman, P.E. ’50 Residence Commons dining hall in downtown Troy, students have the opportunity to select from 38 chef-created signature dishes and made-to-order meals. The facility also operates a trayless dining service, helping to minimize waste as well as water and energy usage, while creating a more sustainable food service. In efforts to explore trayless dining across campus, Sodexo has also several test runs to obtain student input.
Sodexo is also offering a new sustainable coffee program called Aspretto, a 100 percent Fair Trade Certified coffee that is now available in all the resident dining halls. Additional initiatives to support sustainable dining include the use of 100 percent post-consumer napkins, sustainable packaging and recycling options, and the use of new ware-washing sanitizing solutions that are environmentally friendly.
Plans are also under way to host a farmer’s market on the Rensselaer campus, which is part of a student-led initiative sponsored by the Student Sustainability Task Force and the Rensselaer Union. The market will make its official debut in July 1, and will be open every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., from July to October. The market will feature six to seven vendors that offer a selection of dairy, fruits, vegetables, and baked goods. The group is also working with members of Rensselaer’s Chinese Students and Chinese Students and Scholars Association in an effort to include an Asian Market vendor from the Albany area.
Beverly Bendix, a senior environmental science major who has been working to coordinate the project, hopes that the launch of the farmer’s market on the Rensselaer campus will encourage students and members of the campus community to continue to support local vendors and visit the downtown farmer’s market that is open on the weekends.
In the past decade, campus dining halls, and the Rensselaer Union’s McNeil Room have been renovated to make them look less like traditional college dining halls and more like restaurants. Smaller retail cafés have opened in the Folsom Library, Sage Lab, and the Pittsburgh Building, serving students, faculty, and staff. Several of these venues, like the McNeil Room, also provide Internet access. With several places to choose that include the Rensselaer Union, Father’s Marketplace, Maxx’s Deli, Thunder Mountain Curry, Ultimate Baja, and the Beanery Café, students have a plethora of dining options.
It’s dinner time. Across Rensselaer’s campus, students will be dining on ciabatta garlic bread, pasta with bolognese sauce, red curry chicken, Brazilian turkey, roasted chicken with balsamic tomato reduction, tofu/seitan bolognese, pulled pork sandwiches on a whole grain roll with spicy mustard, broccoli stir fry, lamb masala, and more ending the meal with “something delicious for dessert.”
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute